The president of the Fisheries Society of Nigeria (FISON), Mr. Olajide Ayinla expressed his concern over poor food security, specifically in terms of fish protein in Nigeria. He faulted the Nigerian government for making poor policies regarding the nation’s territorial waters in relation to neighboring coastal boundaries.
Nigeria’s per capita fish consumption dropped from 21kg to 11kg. The sudden drop in output is being largely blamed on unreported and unregulated fishing by trawlers which belong to other countries that do not have legal access to Nigerian water bodies.
A study conducted by the National Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research (NIOMR) states illegal fishing by trawlers geographically located to the west, is a threat to Nigerian food security in the sector, but the major culprits of this ugly situation are the fishing vessels from neighboring countries such as Ghana, Cameroon and other close nations who also depend on seafood to grow their economies.
Nigeria loses $1.3 billion annually to Mauritania alone, along the coastal waters, which means that the fishing sector has been denied of the potential to move the country’s economy away from its over-dependence on crude oil.
While reacting to the findings of the report, Dr. Mabel Yarhere, the Director of NIOMR revealed that most of these trawlers start their illegal fishing within 200 nautical miles of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The Nigerian Navy lacks the staff and resources at this current time to checkmate trawler activity sufficiently.
Over-fishing does not just effect the present economy of Nigeria but also has a high negative impact on the future of the country as many fish species are going into extinction and importation of fish for domestic consumption is steadily increasing.